Becoming a good wife or a husband is a life-long process. My parents were married for 54 years before one of them passed away. I am not sure that either of them was extremely happy, but I know that neither would not have chosen anyone else. I was married for 25 years and made so many mistakes that if I had tried I could not have made more. Now, looking back, I would hope that I would have found these qualities: patience, strength, understanding, insight, and selflessness.
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I have been married twice, first divorced, and then widowed. I may or may not ever marry again, but I have learned from the experience and have found a man who embodies the qualities I now know suit me best.
A good spouse allows one autonomy and psychic space, a respect for boundaries. A good spouse will celebrate my differences, not attempting to create another in his own image. A good spouse must be intelligent, curious, empathetic, with a sense of humor and a sense of play. A good spouse wants a partnership, not a hierarchy. And even with all of that, there has got to be a spark!
For me (married 22 years so far...), the major characteristic that a good spouse needs is selflessness. I think that anyone who is in a relationship has to feel that the other person is more important. (Or perhaps it's that the relationship is more important than either of them -- like the line "...and more interested in us than in me" from "The Music Man.") At any rate, a good spouse would need to always be willing to put the needs of the relationship and/or their partner before their own needs. I think once you have that, most other things fall in line.
I agree completely with the post number two above in that selflessness will serve a marriage well. I also agree that there has to be a spark. In addition, I think there has to be a set of common interests. Of course physical attraction often draws people together, the relationship must be built on something deeper and meaningful. A great spouse is your friend, and one that you want to spend time with and be around.
My bride and I just celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. In that time we have survived the death of a child, my changing careers, and a life threatening illness from which she suffered. Reflecting on all that has transpired, we both agree that the most important element in any marriage is the ability to share with one another. There is no such thing as a 50-50 marriage; at times one spouse may need to give 100%; and find later that he/she has been the recipient of 100% from the other. A great spouse is one with whom you can share your entire self; who accepts one for whom one is, who shares the good, the bad, and works through the difficult times. If one finds a spouse who is willing to share unconditionally, then one is fortunate indeed. I certainly have been.
For me, nothing is more important than a great sense of humor. It helps both husband and wife get through tough times and helps to keep the drudgeries of life a bit less serious. A keen intellect and having at least a few shared interests are also important.
The most important things in my marriage have been balance and communication. My spouse is not someone I ever thought I would marry. We are complete opposites. Yet, he is everything I never knew I needed. We are able to balance each other out. He keeps me from stressing over the little things and I keep him grounded. We learned very quickly that if we did not find a way to communicate our marriage would be over before it really began. It takes a lot of work but we are both truly happy.
I agree that a great sense of humor is vital in a marriage. In addition, the ability for both to compromise is equally important. Couples do not always agree on things, so the ability to laugh at situations that we tend to take too seriously is important. Moreover, mutual compromise means that each spouse is willing to see the other's point of view and to take the action necessary, as well as say the words that are necessary, to prevent differences of opinion escalating into full scale arguments. Therefore, a sense of humor, and the ability to compromise is the oil that makes marriages run smoothly and prevents situations from getting blown out of proportion.
Having been married 43 years and survived many serious trials, I believe that sharing, humor and the determination to keep our marriage together with love are the qualities we need. Sharing allows communication with active listening, and compromise when we most need it. Humor allows us to laugh at ourselves, each other, and the funny ups and downs of the escalator of life. Determination is the glue that whatever comes, we will meet it together without the fear of someone giving up in the face of hardship. I believe marriage is a crapshoot in your choice of partner, and I was lucky in the educated gamble I took.
I have never been married, but I have been around married people all my life; most of my friends come from separated parents, and I think that has become more of a norm than an exception. Aside from private concerns which I am not privy to, I think the most important thing about a good spouse is patience. So many arguments -- for everyone -- come from flying off the handle, not thinking about the real issues, and saying things that cannot be unsaid. A common method of dealing with anger is to count to ten, the idea being that the time it takes to count will allow some of the emotional response to dissipate, replaced with rational thought. In marriage, just like any other partnership, the ability to understand, accept, and ignore your spouse's varied opinions and follies is vital. So many people get so addicted to their own opinions that they have no room for any dissent, and in a relationship so intimate as a marriage, patience is even more important. Think of how many friends you lose because you or they refuse to lose an argument; now think of how much worse those arguments are with a live-in partner. Patience, like all virtues, should come from objectivity and mental relaxation; arguments should almost never be conducted from a purely emotional response.
It is probably not about qualities, although the ones mentioned in the above post would undoubtedly help. It's mostly about commitment, which should be mutual.
Marriage is a very serious thing, and a lasting marriage goes through many different stages as time passes. Having been happily married for thirty-eight years, with ups and downs -for those who tell you they've been blissfully happy all the time are either lying or suffer from serious scotoma- I'd say that a sense of humor is a most valuable asset.
Life tries spouses in a variety of ways. True commitment is what helps them face painful situations, bringing them together closer through the support each partner can and will offer. On the other hand, many problems may be solved if both share a sense of humor to tone down dangerous but silly disagreements.
Anyway, what you call qualities may well be setbacks to other people. We are unique individuals. Generalization here simply does not work. You need to decide on what you value, what you'd settle for, and what you'd never put up with and then decide accordingly.
One last thought: never think that you're going to change a future spouse once you're married. No-one can change other people; we can only engineer changes from the inside.
Respect for your partner and understanding and intimacy of that level that you can sense just by watching your partner that he/she is not well and you need to support him/her emotionally... and you must share everything every bit of you and trusting each other and giving time and space.
Common sense the main thing.
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